Ethiopia shuts down embassy in Algeria

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Ethiopia’s government stated on Wednesday that it has closed its embassy in Algiers as part of a cost-cutting effort related to its foreign policy commitments.

It cited financial constraints as a reason for canceling a mission to a country that had previously held discussions between Eritrea and Ethiopia and produced the Algiers Peace Agreement, which ended the war between the two countries on December 12, 2000.

This is the first foreign mission to be closed as part of a cost-cutting strategy. Ethiopia declared in July that it would slash its foreign embassies by at least half to save money.

The Ethiopian embassy in Algeria issued a statement citing the economic crisis aggravated by the Covid-19 pandemic’s severe impacts.

According to the embassy, the newest move is part of the country’s effort to implement new reforms aimed at developing efficient diplomatic representation around the world.

Ethiopia’s interests in Algeria will now be represented by a non-resident ambassador stationed in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia’s capital.

“The decision can be reconsidered any time in the future if the economic situation in the country (Ethiopia) improves,” the embassy said in a statement.

“The embassy wishes to emphasise that this temporary measure will not in any way affect the strong and historic relationship between Ethiopia and Algeria based on mutual understanding.”

In early July, the Horn of Africa nation changed the accreditation arrangements for dozens of its diplomatic missions across the globe.

In a July 5 briefing to Ethiopian lawmakers, Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed said the country will shut down several embassies to manage costs, with most diplomats working as non-resident ambassadors.

“Ethiopia shouldn’t have 60 or so embassies and consulates in the present moment. Instead of throwing US dollars everywhere … at least 30 of the embassies should be closed. The ambassadors should instead be here,” Abiy said.

He went further to say that the Ethiopian ambassador to Kenya, for example, could be located in Addis Ababa and only travel to Nairobi to meet with officials, while keeping a close eye on happenings in Nairobi via the media. Later, the Ethiopian Mission in Nairobi confirmed that the Premier had simply referenced Nairobi theoretically and that the embassy in Nairobi would not be closed.

Abiy emphasized the necessity for fundamental reforms in Ethiopia’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs.

“Given Ethiopia’s current condition, the country doesn’t require as many as 60 or so embassies and consulates,” he remarked.

Although diplomatic posts are costly, it is unclear how much money Ethiopia plans to save by chopping down its diplomatic staff.

The latest move comes as Ethiopian prime minister, Abiy Ahmed, launches new shuttle diplomacy in eastern Africa.

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